The 8 Best Barbell Pads of 2021, According to an Expert

Make moves like hip thrusts more comfortable

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Our Top Picks
Thanks to the dense foam, it'll last through lots of lifts, while protecting your bones from the weight of the bar.
Affordable with features of more expensive options, its foam layer protects your hips while the velcro closure prevents slipping.
Complete with two securing straps and soft, high-density foam, this pick is ideal for comfortably executing hip thrusts.
Two velcro straps keep this super stable as you’re lifting, so you won't have to worry about making adjustments mid-workout.
This thick foam pad offers a soft cushion against your body, helping you lift heavy weight during hip thrusts, squats, lunges, and more.
The straps work to keep the pad steady as you lift, while the high-density foam ensures maximum comfort against your skin.
Ideal if you do a mix of barbell workouts at home and in the gym, this pad can be stashed in your bag for easy carrying.
The set includes a foam pad, ankle straps, and a resistance band to keep your workouts challenging and varied.

Barbell pads come in handy for several reasons. “They're intended to provide a ‘protective’ barrier between the barbell and an individual’s body by acting as a cushion where the load of the barbell is resting,” says Francine Delgado-Lugo, NCSF-CPT, certified weightlifting and CrossFit coach, and co-founder of Form Fitness in Brooklyn, NY.

While Delgado-Lugo doesn’t recommend using a barbell pad during squats (it’s better to go for a lighter weight on the bar, she says), she does recommend them for hip thrusts. “In this case, the cushion is in fact protecting bone without inhibiting the muscle action or contraction,” she says. 

To use a barbell pad properly, particularly for a hip thrust, make sure the closed side of the pad rests against the body and is lined up in the middle of your body and the bar. “You want the pad to serve as a cushion to your hip bones, but you will also need the bar to lift off the floor evenly,” Delgado-Lugo says. If you use it for back squats, Delgado-Lugo recommends making sure the pad goes right on top of the traps (the muscles of the upper back, by the shoulders) and pushing your traps into the bar while pulling the load down.

When you’re ready to use a barbell pad, here’s a list of the best barbell pads on the market, according to a certified personal trainer.

Best Overall: Dark Iron Fitness 17” Barbell Neck Pad

Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Neck Pad
Pros
  • Soft

  • Comfortable

  • Durable

Cons
  • Not as thick as others

The dense foam on this barbell pad means it’ll last through lots of lifts while protecting your bones from the weight of the bar. Over the foam, you also get a synthetic leather outer layer, making it less likely to slip (it velcros around the bar, too) and more durable. Your sweat may stay on the surface, but you can easily wipe it off when you’re done working out. 

Material: Foam and Leather | Length: 17 inches | Thickness: 0.75 inches

Best Budget: Weider Protective Weight Bar Pad

Weider Protective Weight Bar Pad
Pros
  • Inexpensive

  • Soft

Cons
  • Can feel stiff

A hook-and-loop velcro closure keeps this pad from slipping around a regular- or Olympic-sized barbell. The foam layer also provides the protection you need for your hips as you lift. Make sure to secure it tightly so it stays steady. To top off the benefits of this barbell pad, it’s a quality pick at an affordable price so you can easily stock up. 

Material: Foam | Length: 15.5 inches | Thickness: 3-inch diameter

Best for Hip Thrusts: Power Guidance Barbell Squat Pad

Pros
  • Soft

  • Comfortable

  • Secure

Cons
  • Less durable

A super-soft, high-density foam makes this very comfortable when you place it on the bar and use it for hip thrusts. It also comes with two securing straps that stop the pad from slipping on the bar. The thickness also means you can use heavy weight without feeling discomfort on your hips. Opt for black or pink.

Material: Foam | Length: 17.5 inches | Thickness: 1.3 inches

Best Non-Slip: Fit Viva Barbell Pad with Safety Straps

Pros
  • Soft

  • Comfortable

  • Secure

Cons
  • Not as durable as others

Two velcro straps keep this super stable as you’re lifting—just make sure to close them tightly. The pad is also soft for a more comfortable feel as you work out. After using, the shape of the pad should bounce right back, and it doesn’t absorb your sweat, so you don’t have to worry about it holding onto moisture or odor. 

Material: Not disclosed | Length: 17 inches  | Thickness: 1.3 inches

Best Cushioned: Fitness Maniac 18” Barbell Pad

Fitness Maniac 18” Barbell Pad
Pros
  • Soft

  • Comfortable

Cons
  • May slip around

This thick foam pad offers a soft cushion when sitting against your body, helping you lift heavy weight during hip thrusts, squats, lunges, and more. It fits around a 1- or 2-inch barbell, and you can easily remove it if you need to switch from one barbell to the other or take it back and forth to the gym.

Material: Neoprene | Length: 18 inches  | Thickness:  Fits a 2-inch or 1-inch bar

Most Comfortable: ProFitness 18” Barbell Pad

Pros
  • Soft

  • Comfortable

  • Secure

Cons
  • Requires a little work to secure properly

A grippy surface on this barbell pad means it won’t move around while you’re moving up and down through hip thrusts and more. The straps also help to keep the pad steady as you go, while the high-density foam keeps it comfortable against your skin. 

Material: Foam | Length: 18 inches | Thickness: 1.5 inches

What Our Editors Say

"I’ve used this barbell pad for a few years now and I love how it does not move at all while I’m hip thrusting or doing glute bridges. Once I velcro the straps in place around the pad, they never shift from their spot around the barbell. I love how this pad offers enough cushioning that you never feel the barbell dig into your body, but not so much that you can’t feel the weight or placement of the barbell during your lifts, so it doesn’t impair my lifts in any way."— Isabella Broggini, Commerce Editor, Verywell Fit and Mind 

Best Portable: Gymletics Barbell Squat Pad 7-Pack

Pros
  • Extra accessories

  • Comfortable

  • Soft

  • Secure

Cons
  • Not as durable as others

Stash this barbell pad in its drawstring bag and you can easily carry it from your home to the gym. Then, strap it onto the barbell to absorb impact and relieve discomfort through heavy lifting. This barbell pad also comes with a resistance band and ankle straps to use at the cable machine.

Material: Foam | Length: 17.3 inches | Thickness: 1.3 inches

Best Set: Bridawn Barbell Pad Set

bridawn Barbell Pad Set
Pros
  • Secure

  • Extra accessories

  • Portable

Cons
  • Not as durable as others

Looking for other accessories to use at the gym? Check out this Bridawn barbell pad set. Not only does it include the foam pad for more comfortable lifting, but it also comes with a carrying strap and a carrying bag for the pad.

Ankle straps are also included to use with the cable machine, as well as a thick, non-slip resistance band—all good accessories to help turn up the burn during your workouts. 

Material: Cotton-ammonia rubber foam | Length: 17 inches | Thickness: 1.3 inches

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a bar that stays steady and comfortable, go for the Dark Iron Fitness 17” Barbell Neck Pad (view at Amazon) for all your heavy lifting needs. For those looking for a few other accessories to enhance their workout, check out the Bridawn Barbell Pad Set (view at Sears). You’ll get portable tools for carrying the pad, plus ankle straps for the cable machine and a resistance band. 

What to Look for in Barbell Pads 

Comfort

As with any fitness equipment, you need to use gear that feels comfortable, so it doesn’t hold you back from making gains. The same goes for barbell pads—you need one that feels comfortable against your skin and bones. 

Fit

To use a barbell pad, you need to make sure it fits on the barbell and isn’t too long or too short for your body shape. Check measurements before you make a purchase. 

FAQs

Do gyms have barbell pads? 

Some gyms might offer barbell pads, but it definitely depends on the gym or studio you go to. Others will not have them available for use, but you can easily bring your own. Some barbell pad brands offer travel cases that make them even easier to carry from your home to the gym. 

Should you use a barbell pad?

Delgado-Lugo recommends using a barbell pad for hip thrusts, as it will help protect your bones and make sure that your hips stay comfy as you perform the exercise. She does not recommend them for barbell back squats, because it takes away the proprioception of the upper back muscles, meaning "it inhibits their ability to respond and adapt to the loading treatment,” she says. “Without proper engagement and challenge to your upper back muscles, the exercise loses its full benefit as a compound exercise that challenges so many parts of the body.”

Instead of using a barbell pad, choose a lighter weight and then progressively add load over time as you get more experienced. “All this to say, that the stronger you get, the less you need the pad,” Delgado-Lugo says. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit? 

Mallory Creveling has been covering the fitness industry for more than a decade, often writing about workout equipment. She’s also a personal trainer who’s tried tons of at-home equipment. She knows what moves work best with added weight, and what to look for to get the most out of your gear.

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